Yesterday evening over 200 people assembled in St Francis of Assisi Catholic church in Stratford, the closest church within the diocese of Brentwood to the Olympic Park, with Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood and Bishop Richard Moth of the Forces to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration.
Preaching on the Lord’s Transfiguration, Bishop Moth started by saying: “Our task is to make people feel at home, not merely by meeting them but through prayer.” He referred to the 24-hour adoration taking place throughout the Games by parishes and young people at the nearby Joshua Camp having “a far greater influence on the Games than any of us can see” and the need to “see what is going on in silence around the Olympic Park”.
Bishop Moth compared the prayerful support of the 2012 Games to “struggling up the mountain to see the Lord in all his glory”, and wondered “what was happening in the minds of Peter, James and John… They didn’t understand what was going on until after the resurrection. It is like that for our journey too. Many of the events in our lives we don’t understand but only when we reflect on the resurrection of Christ do they have any meaning.”
Tying in this theme with the Games, the bishop stated that we are being presented “face to face with people striving to be their best after years of training for something that takes only a little time… for some this requires constant struggle and striving.” He went on to say that “this is very much what the Christian life is often like. Lots of questions and difficulties surrounded by people who don’t always understand what we are about. The reward, however, is much more than 10 seconds of sporting glory but eternal life itself.”
He mentioned that “the fact that God has created us makes us wonderful. In a dramatic way the Olympics symbolise this: the pursuit of personal and team excellence, a living and vibrant expression of the human person.” He warned, however, not to “be taken up by the razzmatazz” but to see beyond “someone rowing fast or running well” for “an expression of the glory of God”.
He went on to say that “as we move on to the more extraordinary endeavours in the Paralympic Games, what we celebrate there is not more sport but the glory of God fully alive and manifest in the human person.” He petitioned those present to “share this experience” of the Games with one another, but to also “pray that the world will see not only sport, as wonderful as it is, but the glory of God” in the hope that “the Olympics will not just transform those who participate and watch but will draw all people into a close encounter with the Lord of glory who is life itself”.
Young people from The Joshua Camp, are engaged daily in outreach work with the predominantly local Muslim communities at St Francis of Assisi church in Stratford and Our Lady and St Catherine’s church in Bow, both next to the Olympic Park. They speak of the interest and willingness of Muslims and visitors from non-Christian nations to enter into the church to sit in silent reflection before the Blessed Sacrament. Many local Muslim children are also taking advantage of the free face-painting and balloon-sculpting being done by the young missionaries from 21 countries. “There is a real desire to engage with us and to discover what Catholics are all about among the local people here in East London. They are specifically asking us why we are so joyful. We answer them directly and tell them it’s because of Jesus in our lives.”
The police local to the Olympic Park are also commenting on the peaceful presence that surrounds the Games. “We always experience more trouble than this” said one local officer. “There has been a significant reduction in trouble on the streets since the Games began. The sense of peace is almost tangible.”
Full text of Bishop Richard Moth’s homily can be downloaded at the top right of the page.
For more info about The Joshua Camp visit thejoshuacamp.com
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